Marion’s Eight All-Time Favorite Short Stories (Part One)

by | Dec 15, 2023 | Marion's Favorites, Marion's Reading Life Blog, Short Story Review, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 0 comments

Over the past couple of years, I have read more short stories. Short stories have added an extra dimension to my reading life and diversified my reading. I have become a bona fide short story reader and these eight stories are my all-time favorites. I’ve divided my favorites into two posts, and these initial four short stories are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. My hope is that novel readers will welcome short stories and make them a regular part of their reading repertoire. Let these favorite short stories be the start of your journey.

1) The Little Heidelberg by Isabel Allende: This story came from the Stories of Eva Luna collection and caught my attention because of the title.  I visited Heidelberg, Germany in October 2019 and enjoyed my time in that beautiful German city.  However, Allende’s story had nothing to do with that city. It took place in an unnamed post World War II Caribbean city centered on a local nightclub that played polkas, waltzes, and other European folk dances to their patrons. El Capitan and his partner Nina Eloisa have danced at The Little Heidelberg for forty years and never spoken a word to each other. The dance floor was their connection and their dancing became a performance to the patrons that saw them. Allende’s story revealed how a connection could start off in one direction for a long time and change instantly. This was a delightful story to read and an excellent introduction to Allende’s work.

2) George by Terry Bisson: This story comes from veteran speculative fiction writer Terry Bisson’s critically acclaimed Bears Discover Fire collection. I remember when this short story collection coming out in 1993 when I was working at an indie bookstore in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had never seen bears on a book cover and it has always attracted my attention.  Fast forward to 30 years later and I finally read several stories from Bears Discover Fire. George is my favorite story from that collection.

As a parent, would you allow your child born with wings to have them removed? The parents in this story have just given birth to a newborn boy named George. The doctor tells the father that he must have the wings removed if he wants the child to have a normal life. George’s father is unsure at first about the doctor’s recommendation and tries to find alternatives. Also, the father discusses the matter with his pastor and reaches the same conclusion. What would you do? Bisson does not provide a pat answer and this thought-provoking short story is one of my favorites and memorable.

3) Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler: This story comes from Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories collection. Speech Sounds is a Hugo Award-Winning story takes place in a post-pandemic Los Angeles and a woman named Rye is on the city bus heading home.  A fight breaks out, causing commotion and panic amongst the passengers. Few moments later, a mysterious man in a car (which is rare in the story’s world) gets out to stop the fight.  He shows an LAPD badge (the police are non-existent in this world) and uses tear gas to end the fight.  The mysterious man connects with Rye and offers to take her home.  She agrees to the offer and leaves with him. They do not talk to each other and communicate by facial and hand gestures. Butler creates a world in which a society is divided by those who can speak and those who cannot. Speech Sounds is a stark story, and that shows how easily we can take speaking for granted.  This is an excellent introduction to her work.

4) Timeskip by Charles de Lint: Charles de Lint is on the short list of my favorite authors. I have read his work over the past 30 years.  His brand of fantasy connects with me and he deserves to be mentioned as one of the best writers the genre has ever produced. Timeskip is from his Dreams Underfoot collection and introduces readers to his fictional city of Newford. This is one of de Lint’s best and well-known stories about a ghost appearing every time it rains. A young woman named Sam notices the ghost regularly and wants to connect with it. Sam convinces her new boyfriend Geordie that a ghost really exists and he should help her in creating a connection. They summon up the courage to meet the ghost as he appears again in a downtrodden section of the city. However, when she talks to the ghost and starts a connection, Sam learns it comes at a price. The ending of the story was touching and powerful.

These are the first four stories of my favorites. See you soon for part two of my favorite short stories.



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